One of the things I find immensely frustrating about American journalists is their inability to ask appropriate follow-up questions to distract candidates and politicians from their talking points, or at least to expose them as superficial in debates.
Last night I watched the GA gubernatorial debate which featured Libertarian candidate Shane Hazel. Based on the answers he gave to a series of questions put to him, it was clear that he is an extreme version of what most of us call a libertarian. He wanted to abolish all taxes because, as he said, every time the government takes your money, you are not free. He also wants to abolish all nonviolent crime laws. Like all libertarians, he wants to end all gun and business regulations. He plans to end public school because public schools are a monopoly and like Wal-Mart is? I’m not sure what that comparison was. Maybe it had something to do with Wal-Mart being a monopoly, meaning you can only buy goods from them, and that’s bad? He supported the left libertarian idea of bodily autonomy like them. All I could think about was this guy getting Ron Paul to not be far right.
I decided to visit his website just to see if he fleshed out his ideas more fully. Shockingly, he didn’t because they never do. He had a link to buy a set of homeschooling children’s textbooks called Tuttle Twins. Based on a cursory review and reviews on Amazon, I concluded that these books are less teaching tools and more indoctrination tools for the far-right libertarian theocratic philosophy.
To come back to the thesis of my diary, debates must be structured in such a way that the moderators can ask questions. Without the ability to further press candidates on the potential impact of their policies, voters have no way of knowing whether or not those candidates know how their policies affect people. Take Hazel’s no-tax policy, for example. Someone should have asked how they are going to fund the police force, the fire service, or the legislature. Maybe he’ll just get rid of those things or make voluntary donations. Since he wants to eliminate all company regulations, someone should have asked him if 5-year-old kids should work 12 hour days in factories or retail stores, or if companies that force people to work 7 days a week are cool to him. Should companies be held liable for poisoning people with spoiled food or lead paint?
The Socratic method would do wonders in uncovering the ideas, both good and bad, so voters really understand the choices they have when voting for candidates. So more than an hour for a debate. Now I realize that only a small percentage of the people who will be voting in any given election will see these debates, but we should start somewhere.
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